This week! Books!
Hundreds of Simon & Schuster employees and over 3,500 other supporters signed a letter calling upon S&S CEO Jonathan Karp to stop publishing books by former members of the Trump Administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, who recently received a reported multi-million book deal for his memoir. The letter cited Pence’s advocacy for “policies that were racist, sexist and discriminatory toward LGBT people,” and called upon S&S to sever its distribution agreement with Post Hill Press, the conservative publisher who plans to publish a memoir by one of the cops who shot Breonna Taylor.
While S&S announced that it wouldn’t distribute the cop’s memoir, Karp had already rejected entreaties to cancel Pence’s memoir, saying “We come to work each day to publish, not cancel.”
Author advocacy organizations and many prominent authors have joined forces to press Disney to pay all royalties that they owe authors amid allegations that Disney has been placing the onus on authors to prove what they are owed.
Norton announced that is taking Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print entirely amid sexual assault allegations against Bailey. Ruth Franklin delves into the murky world of literary biographies, which are overwhelmingly about men and by men and argues for diversity in viewpoints and more democratic access to archival materials.
Angela Ackerman has some really good advice about how to nail a character’s emotional reactions by showing the unique way they express them.
When is a book sale really a book sale? Well, it’s complicated because of returns, as agent Kate McKean explains.
And Lincoln Michel has some awesome advice about metaphors, including how best to employ them and articulating the importance of metaphors that help authors “see” what’s being described. Writers often use metaphors as literary pyrotechnics without considering whether they’re clarifying or obscuring the concept they’re illustrating.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
- Ocean Prey by John Sandford
- The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Out of Many, One by George W. Bush
- Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- On the House by John Boehner
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Young adult hardcover:
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Renea, with some realtalk about what authors face as sales increasingly concentrate with celebrities and already-bestselling authors.
A month after the pandemic shut us down, I had a conversation with many of my author friends, several are NYT bestsellers. The consensus was exactly as you stated, future book deals will go to celebrities or authors who already have a huge following.
As an author represented by a small press, I can also verify that the moment readers could not get into independent bookstores, we saw sales suffer. Independent bookstores and authors needed that face-to-face experience in order to sell books.
During the pandemic, it no longer mattered that authors were using social media to get the word out; we were now swimming in the figurative ocean with hundreds of thousands of other authors who had also released a book during the pandemic. While Facebook Author groups have helped with sales, I personally prefer READER groups.
However, there’s a thin line between telling the public the truth about your book sales. I appreciate this article because it tells the truth. And sadly, I am in the 98% despite investing and exhausted amount of time, money, and energy.
Moving forward, we have to be honest about where authors go who aren’t signed with a big NYT publisher. Behind closed doors, many of my colleagues are having tough conversations. Do they take a gap year? Do they just give up? Many authors are asking themselves, can I continue to release books knowing that a year later I will be thousands of dollars in debt? Because the other dirty little secret is authors pay for 98 percent of their own publicity. Want to make money writing? Become a publicist. Authors aren’t making money, and readers can feel their desperation with every social media post.
And finally, the computers are getting better at writing.
Have a great weekend!
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I read the article on Disney owing back royalties to authors with interest.
Could this be because the Disney company is facing increasing financial problems?
Disney brought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for, I believe, 4 billion dollars, and then the Marvel rights for another 4 billion–according to the search results on Google. However, they don’t seem to have had much commercial success with their own productions since Frozen. From what I read on social media and internet opinion pieces, Star Wars fans have been disappointed by the Disney versions.
Well, the LucasFilm originals were a hard act to follow with the first installment, Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) breaking all box office records at the time.
The first of the Disney sequel trilogy starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, (2015) scored 7.9 on IMDB–still, pretty decent–compared with two of the original LucasFilm trilogy scoring in the high 8’s. However, the next movie in the Disney trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) only scored 7.0. The approval rating for the third in the trilogy, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) plummeted to 6.6.
However, a current Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, sees Disney back on top with high approval ratings right across the board and scoring 8.8 on IMDB.
Despite this drop in the financial budget–given the huge outpouring of cash to acquire other franchises–the Disney company as a whole has been facing financial setbacks at a time when the entertainment industry has taken a hit with COVID restrictions. Has YT taken over the entertainment industry as the new go-to for relaxation, informed opinions, interviews, music and pussy cat jollies?
This article states that COVID put a serious dent in Disney theme park profits in 2020:
Here’s some info on box office takings for the Star Wars trilogy:
Sharp drop in takings after the first movie. Although the figures sound high, after budgetary costs, etc, are taken out, would these figures help to financially redeem Disney from their earlier mind-spinning investments? I’ve also noticed there are a growing number of abandoned Disney properties:
Haven’t really come to any definite conclusion here. But I’d be interested to hear what others think.